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Issue No. 213 19 March 2004  

Pay For View
While the ABS latest figures show union density is stable, behind the headline rate of 23 per cent lie some interesting trends.


Interview: Baby Bust
Labor's Wayne Swan argues that the plight of our aging workforce is only one side of our demographic dilemma.

Safety: Dust To Dust
Failure by authorities to police safety in the asbestos removal industry is threatening the lives of members of the public, writes Phil Doyle.

Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
Delegates from print shops around Sydney will publicly shame this month’s Bad Boss nominee with a rally outside his new Alexandria operation next Thursday.

National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
Noel Hester reports on a spin doctors' talkfest, workplace pain, stroppy teachers and IWD party time in the national wrap.

International: Bulk Bullies
An extraordinary five month struggle over affordable health care, by nearly 70,000 Californian supermarket workers, has just come to an end, writes Andrew Casey.

History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Green Bans saved a piece of bush before they saved much of the Sydney’s built environment, writes Neale Towart

Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Tim Anderson reveals Australia’s second betrayal Of East Timor is playing out before our eyes.

Review: The Art Of Work
Workers and westies are being celebrated as the cultural icons they are thanks to two Sydney exhibitions reminding us there is a world of art in the everyday, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
Wondering where the next porkie is going to come from? Resident bard David Peetz knows.


 "Grubs" Derail Revolution

 Blackouts Hit Sydney

 Pig-Out at Restaurant

 Smith’s Charity Begins At Work

 Air Rage Set To Soar

 Boxers Union Lands First Blow

 Drug Tests On Hold

 "Anarchy" Warning from Builders

 Burmese Generals at it Again

 Sugar: Sweet Taste of Survival

 Workers Endorse "User Pays"

 State Water, Forests Face Sell-Off

 Pirates and Ports for Classroom

 Activists What's On!


The Soapbox
Iraq and Your Mortgage
How high interest rates go will be a key issue in 2004 and if you are looking for a clue, there's no better place to look than the war in Iraq, writes Michael Rafferty.

Hang Onto the Day Job
Show someone else the money, says Phil Doyle.

Westie Wing
Ian West shows why Eveleigh Street’s not so far away from Macquarie Street

Don’t Give Up the Fight
Get Up, Stand Up is the logo of choice on a popular range of subversive condoms. Ken Davis from Union Aid Abroad reports from Zimbabwe’s second city

 Grubby Poseur
 Tom On Drink
 Howard Screws Vets
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Blackouts Hit Sydney

Sydney is being plunged into darkness, suburb by suburb, as faulty substations blow up, showering debris up to 50 metres away and blacking out homes.

Electricians blame Energy Australia’s "penny pinching" for the "shocking" state of the network, and say dangerous incidents have already struck Paddington, St Peters, Chatswood and Milperra, warning of an Auckland style crisis unless maintenance is stepped up.

Energy Australia has been accused of hiding behind media spin and ill-informed platitudes instead of addressing the real problems facing Sydney's electricity network.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has placed a ban on working 'live' at the affected substations until the problems are fixed.

Affected suburbs where substandard substations are in operation includes Chatswood, Mosman, Lane Cove, Manly, Beacon Hill, North Head, Lindfield, Pymble, Turramurra, Cronulla, Leichhardt, Mason Park, Drummoyne and Randwick.

Some substations have had tarpaulins placed over equipment to protect it from the elements.

One of these tarpaulins gave out at Crows Nest on Ash Wednesday this year, throwing North Sydney into gridlock as traffic lights failed and hundreds of homes and businesses were left without power. Energy Australia employees had notified management of the leak at the Crows Nest substation over two years prior to the incident.

Sydney CBD was thrown into darkness last September when Energy Australia gave the city a "spring gift" blackout courtesy of what the ETU has labelled as a "hugely overburdened electricity network".

"Members know the Central Business district is overloaded," says ETU Organiser Steve Butler. "The triple banked system cannot handle the strain that is being placed on it. The system was gold plated for the 70's and 80's but was allowed to deteriorate due to economic rationalism.

"When bean counters are in charge of an electricity network then the beans these bastards count become more important than employees or customers."


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